Practicing Mindset

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  1. guitar1025

    The topic on practicing and what to practice made me really think about this.

    How does one develop the mindset to practice?

    We all practice for the same reason; we want to get better at what we do. On the other hand, I know that I often times have a hard time actually practicing; avoiding distractions, etc.

    I was curious if anyone out there cared to share (wow, too much rhyming) any ideas they have on mentally preparing to practice.

    Thanks guys!!

  2. arewolfe

    If I'm feeling lazy about practicing I usually revert back to reflecting on how much I suck in so many different areas, and that if I want to overcome all the problems in my musicianship (which are sometimes overwhelming but inspiring at the same time, considering there are so many) I will have to be consistent from now on. I didn't start playing guitar until I was 17, and I stopped practicing for a period of 4 years during my mid-20s, so I experience regret and desperation at times, which also serves to motivate. My age (29) is also a contributing factor... like, dude you better put in consistent work from now on or you'll never achieve shit. But a lot of the times it comes down to having enough interesting things to work on. I started lessons again this year (with Garrison Fewell) after 8 years without studying privately, and that's helped a lot.

    I also frequently think back to a Charlie Parker interview I heard. He says he practiced 11-15 hours a day for 3-4 years.

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  3. JorgeRubiales

    Wow, arewolfe, your story is pretty much the same as mine, except that I'm 26. I've spent some periods practising 9 to 11 hours, but there's always a day when I'm completely burnout, normally on the first two weeks. Plus, if you want to study that many hours, you better have someone to clean your house, buy your food, etc. My girlfriend would kill me if I asked her, so...

    @guitar1025, for a nice practice session, you should have your own place, with as little distractions as possible, and with everything you'll need to study at hand.

    Basically, if you look for conventional study techniques on internet, you'll find many that you can apply to music.

  4. yaclaus

    A small notebook and a timer can help set you straight. It´s important to make sure to practice all aspects of playing. I was too obsessed being a transcriber, spending 80% of my practice time transcribing beautiful music. Now making sure to cover more aspects and become a complete player, that´s my focus now. Don´t be too ambitious. Stop after 20-30 minutes of one aspect and move to the next. I´m really talking to myself now and what I should be doing... :)

  5. guitar1025

    Yeah yaclaus, I'm in that same boat. I'm trying to come up with a methodical approach in that same vain; transcribe for about 45 min. Take a break, 45 min. ear training, etc.

    Jorge hit on the heart of what I'm trying to get at. Just how to go about practicing. Getting my head where it needs to be in order to practice. I miss my days in school where I could lock myself in a practice room with just a piano and my instrument. No distractions.

  6. Sandemose

    I havent read all the posts, so I might repeat something others have said, so if I do, sorry for that.

    My goal/aim is to be/feel free when I play a tune. I wanna know lots of voicings/voice leadings, scales, arpeggios, rhythmic devices (like triplets in groups of four) and all kinds of stuff that allows me to react to what ever someone I play with does. I want to be better to play with other people, and I want to appreciate my own playing in that context (now I dont).

    Best, Sandemose

  7. silverwater

    I think the best motivation for practicing comes from playing with other people (especially in a gig situation). Then you realize where you suck :) But this helps you create specific goals in your practicing.

    But I guess there's kind of a catch-22 here, since you need to practice to get good enough to play with other people in the first place. Most people who pick up an instrument never get over that "hump"...I guess one just has to want it bad enough.

    For me, it always helped me to be taking lessons, because then not wanting to look like a moron in front of my teacher was a decent motivator. But truthfully, I just decided one day when I was a teenager that I wanted to do everything I could to be the best that I could be, and my own obsessive-compulsive nature has driven me forward through countless nights in the shed.

    I remember a good quote posted on one of my professor's doors in college:

    "The more you practice, the more you want to practice. The less you practice, the less you want to practice."

    I think this is pretty true.

  8. jorgemg1984

    Great quote silverwater! I will keep it and spread it :)

    I do think it's important to have different mind sets to different topics... And I also think everything in jazz is deeply personal! Some people hate shredding and just learn by preacticing with ither people all the time. Others love to shred... Some practice deep others practice lightly and also get great results. Everyone has to know what works best for themselves... This also true to "what to practice" - different people need to practice different things in different ways. It is personal...

    Some topics to me require deep concentration - ear training exercises and transcribing mainly. Learning a new song and doing exercises on a new song (scales, arpeggios, etc...) is way more relaxed. And stuff like licks or scale patterns I can even do watching TV because it forces me to practice them without thinking which is good imo... The "automatic pilot" thing can be good for this stuff.

    I stopped having the "what to practice" issue when I had classes with a guy here in Lisbon that is by far the best jazz teacher I have ever seen. I have stuff to practice for the rest of my life... Some years ago I would be practicing ALL THE TIME and be really obsessive! It was an important period but I learned to relax and enjoy much more in the last year. Sometimes I have to force myself to practice but if I am not in the mood I just have fun with the guitar - improvise and compose. But if I stay too long without practicing I always put me back on track because it's really important.

    Above all I would say the gigging mindset is much more important than the praticing mindset. Some people like to practice really deep but to me sometimes it feels too "heavy". Having fun and being relaxed at practicing is also important specially if you do it all the time. But total focus on the gig is the real deal and I had to work a lot on that...

    PS - If you don't know what to practice just tape yourself improvising with a play-along. You will find stuff to practice right way... Or transcribe a solo, you can't go wrong with that imo. Oh and I rather practie three topics for two hours each than six topics for one hour each...

  9. guitar1025

    That is a great quote silverwater.

    I think the thing that has helped me most the last couple of weeks is the discovery of the website. Before, I used to get so overwhelmed by the amount of things in my playing that I thought needed help, it made it very daunting, almost deflating to practice. Through that site, I know come up with a plan before I sit down of what I'm going to work on in that 30 minutes or whatever time frame. Having a plan of attack, so to speak, really makes things easier. I feel that I'm also getting a lot more out of these focused sessions, which in turn, makes me excited for the next one.

    Happy playing guys!!


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